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Benjamin Spillman

Chinese New Year even bigger than All-Star Game

15 February 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas is making headlines from Boston to Beijing, but it's not the only event in Las Vegas this week -- it isn't even the biggest.

Chinese New Year begins Sunday, the same day as the game, meaning Las Vegas is going to be a very busy place.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority doesn't estimate visitation specifically for Chinese New Year.

But Gary Selesner, president of Caesars Palace, said it will exceed the authority's estimate of 25,000 visitors for the NBA All-Star Game.

"Chinese New Year is the busiest period of the year at Caesars Palace, and I would say for most of our competitors in the luxury segment in hotels in Las Vegas," Selesner said.

The hotel has booked two shows by Chinese entertainer Jacky Cheung, both of which sold out the 4,100-seat Colosseum showroom.

The same afternoon the All-Star Game tips off, Chinese New Year guests at Caesars Palace will be participating in a procession aimed at warding off evil spirits. Executives from the hotel will also be on hand to host a good luck presentation of lettuce and red envelopes of money.

"The property is really decked out," he said.

MGM Mirage properties are also hosting events, at hotels like Bellagio and MGM Grand.

Sunday is also the day of an Asian Food Festival at the Las Vegas Hilton. The event will feature food from Asian food vendors and is expected to attract more than 10,000 locals.

The Men's Apparel Guild in California clothing convention ends Friday and is expected to attract about 100,000 people who will be leaving as the All-Star Game commotion is reaching its peak.

The impact of the All-Star Game, however, is being felt among Chinese New Year visitors.

David Huang, owner of the tour company Chinese Host, said the game is driving up prices for hotel rooms, making Las Vegas costlier for Chinese guests.

"The rooms are way, way too expensive for anybody to promote," Huang said.